Mr NORTHE (Morwell) (17:34): (163) My adjournment matter is directed to the Minister for Resources, and the action I seek from the minister is that she instigate a meeting between herself, Engie, Latrobe City Council and the community, including organisations such as the Latrobe Valley Yacht Club, and that the objective and purpose of that meeting be to look at options to reopen Hazelwood Pondage for current and future users, locals and visitors alike.
This is a significant issue within my community. Members will be well aware that following the closure of the Hazelwood power station the future of the pondage had a question mark over it, and unfortunately that question has still not been answered satisfactorily. It is a unique body of water and it has been used for many, many purposes over the years, including state and national swimming championships. The Latrobe Valley Yacht Club deliver their Sailability program there so that persons with disabilities are able to undertake sailing activities. It is very popular with recreational users, campers and even for fishing. Members would also probably recall that the government—through a good, positive initiative—placed barramundi into the pondage. It seems strange now that the fish are doing quite well in the pondage but humans are not able to use it.
This is something that the community feels very strongly and passionate about, making sure it does reopen. That is not to say that there are not issues. Engie have identified some structural issues with the walls of the pondage and subsequently water levels have been reduced. Users have now been banned from using the pondage for months on end. This is of significant economic and social detriment to our community.
I raised this issue 12 months ago in Parliament and was advised by the then Minister for Resources that the government would be working with all stakeholders to try and find an outcome. Nothing has eventuated, obviously, and in fact the situation is much worse than it was 12 months ago, with no public use at all. This is a valuable community asset. It is an iconic feature of our local community, and the community has certainly made it clear to me very loudly that they wish the government to explore every single opportunity that is available to them to see if we can reopen the pondage for current and future use.
In closing, we certainly want the minister to instigate a meeting with all the relevant stakeholders with the objective of finding an outcome that sees Hazelwood Pondage retained and utilised into the future.
The Hazelwood Cooling Pond is owned by ENGIE. This man-made asset holds a large volume of water, also owned by ENGIE, which was used to support the operations of the now-closed Hazelwood Power Station.
I acknowledge the benefit that the Hazelwood Pondage has offered to the Latrobe Valley community over a number of years as a recreational facility. Many individuals and local community groups benefitted from this asset while the Hazelwood Power Station was in operation.
In 2018, ENGIE commissioned an independent analysis of the structural integrity of the Hazelwood Pondage walls. This analysis found that there was a risk of failure of the dam walls and water levels were lowered as a result to mitigate this risk.
The analysis estimated the costs to undertake remediation work on the Pondage walls to be in the order of tens of millions of dollars.
ENGIE has advised my department that it is currently undertaking a range of technical studies to inform its long-term rehabilitation and remediation of the Pondage site.
Jaclyn Symes MP
Minister for Resources
Answer Published Date: